Since the start of the 2020s, GR Dunks have become a fashion staple. But historically it’s the SB Dunk that has been responsible for maintaining the silhouette’s place in the hearts of sneakerheads and skaters alike. With no end in sight for their incredible releases, we thought we’d look back at the history of the Nike SB Dunk, to see how an 80s basketball shoe made its way from court to board.
By the 1990s, skateboarding had gone from counterculture to not only an extreme sport but an emerging market. Nike were of course looking for a way into that market, and in 1997, they produced their own line of skate shows. However, Nike was unable to sell these to specialised skate shops, as skaters were more in favour of brands like Vans and Osiris which were already established as core to the community.
That’s not to say that Nike shoes had been strangers to skaters. In fact, during the 80s, the traction on their basketball models like the Air Jordan 1 made them ideal for gripping onto boards. The head of Nike SB at the time, Sandy Bodecker, took note of this, and in 2002 the brand brought back another classic Peter Moore design, the Dunk.
The SB Dunk wasn’t a simple retro, its design was tweaked with skaters in mind. The uppers received added durability, with extra padding on the tongue and around the ankle. These seemingly subtle changes made all the difference, not only redefining Nike SB but the Dunk as we knew it.
Even more so than the Nike Sportswear Dunk, the SB has become known for its incredible collaborations. These weren’t just used to build hype, but to cement Nike SB’s credentials by collaborating with independent skate shops.
One of the most notorious has to be the Pigeon Dunks. Released as part of the Dunk’s 20th anniversary in 2005, these were designed by Jeff Staple of Staple Design, drawing inspiration from New York City. The release of this shoe sparked what many consider the first “Sneaker Riot”, and 17 years later the shoes can go for over £100,000 on resale. Other classic collaborations from the 2000s include the Diamond Supply Co. ‘Tiffanys’, the Supreme ‘Cements’ and the Concepts ‘Lobster’.
As we all know, the Dunk made a huge comeback in 2020, but it was all thanks to some key collabs for the SB. We got the new classics from Travis Scott coming in a stylish mix of materials and patterns. This was followed by what might be the zaniest Dunk yet, the Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky.
This momentum shows little sign of stopping, in 2022, skate shops are continuing to debut with SB Dunk collabs. We’ve had the KCDC Dunk Highs from Brooklyn, as well as the Pass~Port Dunks from Australia. Other standouts include the collab with the non-profit, Skate Like A Girl, as well as the Why So Sad? Lows from skater and mental health advocate, John Rattray.
Whether made in collaboration or in-house, the consistent hype colourways for the SB Dunk continue to make it one of the most collectable sneakers of all time.
For more news and info on the SB Dunks, stay tuned to KLEKTIVE, plus you can check out the range of SB Dunks available on KLEKT